Tag Archives: anime

#MondayBlogs Writing, Creating, and Loving Villains

7 Nov

Wizard World Comic Con invited me to speak on the panel Villains vs. Villains with authors Genese Davis, Jack Burgos, and RA Jones last month, and I loved it! We had a great time talking about what makes a villain likable, memorable, or just plain evil. Today, since I know so many of you couldn’t make it, I thought I’d share some of the awesome points brought up during the discussion.

Wizard World Comic Con Villain Crew. From left to right, RA Jones, Genese Davis, Shannon A. Thompson, Jack Burgos.

Wizard World Comic Con Villain Crew. From left to right, RA Jones, Genese Davis, Shannon A. Thompson, Jack Burgos.

First, there are so many different ways to tackle a villain. In regards to creating a person as the villain (rather than society or nature), you have the evil villain, the villain we love to hate, the sympathetic villain, the group of villains, and more. But here are my top three rules to keep in mind when creating any type of villain for your novel.

1. The Villain is the Hero in Their Own Book

Much like the sidekicks do not exist just to support the hero—as they say, your friends don’t exist just to support you, right?—the villain follows the same rule. They do not exist just to antagonize the hero. They have their own lives, desires, wishes, and fears. In my opinion, the best villains are the ones who believe they are the hero. If you had to write the story from their side, you could (even if you don’t agree with them). A great example of this is…history. Just look at the years and decades that came before us. Some of the worst, most vile human beings thought they were doing the right thing. A modern example of this is Valentine in The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

2. Avoid Clichés

I hate hate HATE the scorned woman villain trope. In fact, I hate the scorned man villain trope, too. Just because their lover—or their family—dies in the beginning, they become this crazy, evil maniac (generally for WORLD DOMINATION and REVENGE), and it becomes…yawn. Why? I think it’s a little silly. (And I say this as someone who has lost a mother, a friend, and more.) While revenge is A-okay in my villain book, I think we can tone it down from WORLD DOMINATION and get a little more personal, like—I don’t know—ruining one person’s life? Some clichés that were brought up included evil British doctors, (doctors of any sort, actually), and those that are just plain offensive, like people with disabilities who are evil because of their disabilities. (Please. Seriously. Stop.) Like with writing any character, research is key. Make sure you’re writing a genuine person who adds to the market in a unique way.

3. Overall Storyline

The villain doesn’t always have to lose. They could also tell the story or become good by the end. I’m dying for a book where the villain and hero become best friends (whether or not that’s a good thing or not), and I love it when the relationships between a hero and villain blurs. One of my favorite examples of this that I’m currently watching is The K2, a KDrama where the hero and villain have quite the interesting dynamic. Which brings me to my next point.

Challenge Yourself

Read books outside your favorite genre. Try reading the original comic books of those movies you’ve seen. Watch shows you wouldn’t normally try. Personally, I love KDramas and anime, and I think they have some awesome examples of villains that I don’t see as much of in Western shows. By expanding your palate on genres, mediums, and cultures, you will expand your understanding on creating villains, destroying villains, and more. If you read and watch the same types of stories over and over, you will most likely write the same types of villains.

So who wants a writing prompt?

Let’s take the villains we love to hate. How do you create one? One brought up by our crowd was Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. Honestly, she’s always reminded me that super strict substitute teacher everyone hated in middle school. So, here’s your prompt. Take an average everyday role and exaggerate it to villain status. In Umbridge’s case, she could’ve started off as that substitute teacher. Figure out what annoys you at the core (in this case, “by the book” rules, even when those rules can be destructive or harmful or hurtful). Try someone who is nosy. Try someone who is stuck-up or cruel. Play with “good” roles, too. If you have a great coach for instance, you can also have a terrible one. Any role can be a good one to play with when it comes to creating a villain. It’s all about their personality…and how evil they can get.

Now go take over the world.

Just kidding.

~SAT

Wizard World Comic Con: Shannon A Thompson

Wizard World Comic Con: Shannon A Thompson

P.S. Thanks for having me, Wizard World Comic Con! I had an absolute blast! If anyone is curious about their 2017 schedule, check it out by clicking here. I’m excited to announce that I’m working with the convention to return next year. We will see! Keep your fingers crossed for me. I am working hard to travel more and speak at different events around the country. If you’re a reader and want me at an event near you, be sure to e-mail their staff and let them know! Your input helps! (And I will love you forever.)

Also, I’ll be at YALLFest in Charleston, South Carolina THIS Saturday! If you want to meet up, just shoot me an e-mail at shannonathompson@aol.com. I would love to see you!

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#SATurdate: Salt to the Sea, Death Note, The Turncoat’s Gambit, & Tallulah

2 Jul

What I’m Writing:

Honestly, I go through phases where I dread writing. Mainly because I’m stretching myself too thin and/or trying to find my footing in my next project. I think I’m in the middle of both of those issues. I have three completed manuscripts—one of which needs editing—I want to start something new, but I’m also EXHAUSTED. All that being said, I started yet another novel. It’s my second attempt at a contemporary, but again, I. am. struggling. I know I’ll find my footing in one of my projects, but I haven’t hit solid ground yet. Between BFest, Bad Bloods releasing, and my day job, life hasn’t afforded me a lot free time for writing either (which might be part of the problem). Let me put it this way, I only wrote 5,000 words…in June. IN ALL OF JUNE. I need a hug. But I will power through it!

What I’m Publishing:

A new review is in of November Snow! “Truly, Thompson has done an incredible job here of story weaving. Just wonderful. Don’t underestimate your need for tissues here people, don’t do it. Prepare yourself with tissues and a cuddly stuffed animal.” – Babbling Books (Seriously, listen to her advice. Tissues will come in handy.)

Catelyn's Story on Wattpad

Catelyn’s Story on Wattpad

This week, Catelyn’s Story released on the FREE Bad Bloods Prequel on Wattpad. This is also the first origin story seen from the Southern Flock’s perspective. They formed later than the Northern Flock, so from now on, you’ll see stories flip back and forth between the two flocks. If you ever wondered why the groups of bad bloods are called flocks, this origin story explains why! In Bad Bloods, Catelyn is Serena’s best friend. Here is a preview: The girl was pretty enough for plenty of crimes. Read her story by clicking the link.

Also, because I created three cartoon photos of the first three characters, here are three cartoon versions of the most recent stories: Ryne, Violet, and Catelyn.

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

Ryne, Violet, Catelyn

The #1lineWed theme was “sky” so here is your weekly preview:

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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Visit the Pinterest and Facebook Pages.

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

What I’m Reading:

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea

I began and finished Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Heartbreaking and terrifying, yet informative, Salt to the Sea is an emotional story about the Wilhelm Gustloff, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history. Told from four different perspectives, Sepetys focused on young adults and how World War II was affecting their lives forever. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who wish to learn more about how WWII affected the youth and what happened to the Wilhelm Gustloff. All that being said, this book is not for the light-hearted. Though I still think the light-hearted should read it, Salt to the Sea is graphic. I know there are scenes that will never leave me. But if I can call something graphic and beautifully written in the same breath, this book deserves that statement. You can read my full 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Wounded Rhymes album by Lykke Li. I was driving between cities a lot this week, and this was my soundtrack for the week.

What I’m Watching:

I saw Death Note for the first time! (I know. I know. Crazy, right?) I LOVE anime, but I’ve never seen Death Note despite the crazy big fan base. (Perhaps that’s why I haven’t seen it?) I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I LOVED it from episode 1. I have about 10 episodes left, but I think it’s fantastic. And I definitely think the shinigami are adorable.

I also watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, which I have mixed feelings about. I actually remember seeing Cloverfield in the theatre when I was 16, so seeing this kind-of-sequel-but-not-a-sequel of Cloverfield, was interesting. I think I had a more uncommon opinion by actually liking the first half more than the second half. I thought it was more psychological suspense at first, and then, it turned into a crazy sci-fi battle. The genre mashing didn’t feel very smooth, but it was an entertaining movie!

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I baked stuffed peppers this week, and they were awesome! I’ve never made them before, so it was a plus that the recipe was easy. No desserts this week, but I promise they are coming.

What I’m Wearing:

I took new author photos this week, so look out for that! I wore two different outfits—one pink one, one blue one—and I’m excited to change my look. I saw a preview, and the photographer is awesome. 

What I’m Wanting:

Tallulah! That movie looks awesome. Why oh why was the release date July 29 and not June 29???

The Turncoat's Tambit by Andrea Cremer

The Turncoat’s Tambit by Andrea Cremer

Also, I LOVE The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer (and the sequel, The Conjurer’s Riddle). They are some of my favorite reads, so I cannot WAIT until November when book 3 of the trilogy releases. The Turncoat’s Gambit looks fantastic! November cannot come fast enough. Click the links if you wish to read my reviews of the first two books. I highly recommend this steampunk series.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I became the first American to become the Queen of England. (Don’t ask me why or how or even if I understand why I had this dream…I mean, I do stalk the Queen’s corgis.) But, yes, I was “voted” in to become the next Queen of England, and everyone was—naturally—very put off by this. Even I was like, “Are you sure? I don’t know about this. Seems strange.” But everyone who voted was like, “You MUST!” So, I had to accept during this party, which was, apparently, only on the other side of the castle, but I had to go through all these secret passageways to get there, and there were assassins around every corner trying to kill me. They never killed me, but they did trap me, and it took me three hours to get out, but I got to the party…and everyone had left. The big surprise was that the Queen owned a Wheel of Fortune game that every Queen has to play in order to become Queen? But of course I was too late, so I didn’t get to play or become Queen. But I did get to play with her corgis.

What Else Is Going On:

I did a podcast interview this week. I look forward to sharing it, since the podcast focuses on Kansas City writers!

~SAT

#SATurdate: Lore, New Office, Paint Swatches, & Snow White

26 Mar

12718001_1008531982527316_2805994555122682398_nI moved this week to a brand-new office! I’m super excited about it. I have a ridiculous amount of room to spread out, and I’m hoping I can get a bigger desk one of these days. My current one was great for my previous, much smaller office, but now I can spin! I need to be able to roll back and forth for no reason other than dramatics. On a side note, my Sticky Notes did not survive the move. I’m challenging my Maggie Stiefvater and remembering that ideas do not make the author, the author makes the ideas. (Check out her article The Disposability of Ideas.) Plus…I sort of cheated and took pictures of them before they were ruined. I’m not quite at Stiefvater’s level. (But, really, who is? She’s a goddess. [Okay. I’ll stop being an obsessive fangirl now.])

What I’m Writing:

993078_1006450089402172_901225323950707552_nSo Take Me Yesterday was put aside this week. I worked solely on the mysterious manuscript known as “D.” I actually wrote D when I was 19, but numerous elements were missing until recently. Now I’m 18,000 words into the rewrite, which is awesome. I have 62,000 additional words already typed from the original manuscript, so it’s really a matter of cutting and pasting and editing and screaming at my 19-year-old self for not figuring out the missing elements…you know…until I was 24. (*Repeats to myself* It’s not a race, it’s not a race, it’s not a race.) I also shared a bit of “research” I was conducting, via my paint pallets. D is an extremely colorful novel. It’s difficult to explain without giving away the plot, but it’s been a lot of fun flipping through the colors while editing old scenes and adding new ones. On a side note, I also took some time to world-build a brand-new novel I shall call S for now. S is—more or less—something I’m currently writing for fun. Like a reset novel. A novel with no pressure to finish or to pursue publication with. Sometimes working on something brand-new with no deadlines or expectations helps me reset my writer buttons. But the more I work on it, the more I love it. </3 Gah! Decisions…

What I’m Publishing:

This week, I shared the content disclosure for November Snow, so I thought you’d like to know our rankings. If you need a handy guide about what these rankings mean, click here to check out November’s Snow disclosure system:

11987_1007269949320186_6557017595173577508_nFirst off, November Snow was rated YA(m) – Young Adult Mature – which means it’s written for a mature young adult audience.

Romance: 2: The romance picks up in book 2, compared to book 1.

Violence: 5: Also, no surprise here. Bad Bloods is a fairly violent duology, revolving around a political debate eradicating an entire group of people, which mainly consists of homeless children…but I promise you, the violence is not as graphic as the original book? Okay. That’s not saying much. But there is meaning behind it. The violence isn’t gratuitous.

Language: 3: Still cursing a little bit…but I mean, you’re talking about kids trying to NOT be killed all the time, so let’s give them break, yeah?

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: 0: No drug or alcohol use in the second part of the duology.

The #1lineWed preview was lines from page 23 or 123. This line is from page 23.

He confessed it like secrets were simply to share.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

I’m reading The Young Elites by Marie Lu! I’m almost finished, and I must say, I definitely love Marie Lu. I was also envious of her trip to Tokyo this past week with Amie Kaufman, author of These Broken Stars (which I also loved). I mean, they went to an owl café. An OWL CAFÉ. This is one of my ultimate dreams. I’m dying of owl envy.

What I’m Listening To:

MxdXdQrTLore is my latest podcast obsession. It’s a bit like Myths & Legends, but shorter and creepier. Lore also focuses on overall myths, like vampires/werewolves, while Myths & Legends discusses tales like King Arthur. I highly recommend both of them.

What I’m Watching:

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime—a.k.a. Snow White with the Red Hair—which happens to be one of my favorite mangas. I had no idea it’d been made into an anime, so I binge-watched season one, and I’m enjoying season two now that it’s releasing. Love them! And Louie. I watched that, too.

การ์ตูน-Fairy-Tail-Zero-ภาคพิเศษต้นกำเนิดเรื่องราวกิลด์จอมเวทย์แฟรี่เทล-280x1722

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I learned how to make homemade spaghetti sauce, which was awesome…and very messy when I accidentally dropped some of the tomato puree on the kitchen floor.

What I’m Wearing:

10399523_1009113812469133_5506393239089674635_nShorts one day and coats the next. Seriously. This winter-to-spring weather is a strange mix of sunshine and misery.

What I’m Wanting:

A new desk! Preferably a larger one. One that will allow me to write on notebook paper and type on my computer at the same time…Oh! And hold coffee. I would REALLY like a nice bookshelf, too, since well—and don’t hate me—my books are sitting on the floor. I have yet to move my bookshelves from my second-to-last move. What can I say? I move a lot.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I bought a new cat, and I named it Happy…after my broomstick, also named Happy, because sweeping made me happy? (I don’t know.) But then my friend showed up and also bought a cat, and upon hearing my name for my new cat, she named her new cat Happy…and none of this made me happy at all.

What Else Is Going On:

Death Before Daylight is on sale for $3.99 right now! That’s pretty neat. That means you can read the entire Timely Death Trilogy for only $8.00…which costs less than one of those novelty horse masks. You know. Those ones.

~SAT

To celebrate, the sale of Death Before Daylight, here’s an excerpt!

DBDcoverShe moved again, barely, but she moved. “I can handle myself in a fight.”

“You’re okay in a fight,” I teased, watching the aggravation flicker over her gaze.

She squirmed again, trying to kick my leg with her boot. “Okay?” she repeated. “Just okay? I do better than okay.” She wasn’t lying. “You would be nothing without my help.”

“Oh, low blows,” I sang, forcing her shadows to solidify again. “You are mad.”

“I’m determined,” she corrected.

“I never argued with you,” I pointed out. “You make me who I am. I wouldn’t be anything without you.”

“Aw,” she cooed, smiling at my words, but right when I thought she was enjoying our time together, she swung her leg over and knocked my torso off her. This time, she was the one on top. “I win.”

I winced, stretching my neck to breathe. “You know, most girlfriends would have thought that was romantic.”

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#SATurdate: The 5th Wave, The Siren, Radio Interview, & Peanut Butter Cookies.

6 Feb

12633552_978628942184287_7779644671236409024_oToday’s Saturdate post covers two weeks, so it’s going to be longer than usual. That being said, it was an exciting two weeks! I had my first in-studio radio interview at Johnson County Community College, and the host was super sweet! I can’t wait for you all to hear the interview, so be sure to tune in to ECAV Radio interview at 2:00 p.m. CDT this Monday! I even read a poem on air. (And you’ll get to hear more about my upcoming novels.) There might even be discussions about dinosaurs, nightmares, and The Tomo Trilogy.

What I’m Writing:

I am 25,000 words into Take Me Yesterday! If you want some fun clues as to what you will see in the sequel, watch this music video!

What I’m Publishing:

I wrote the dedication and acknowledgements for both Bad Bloods books this week, and I turned in my keyword optimization for The Timely Death Trilogy. (Now I have to work on keyword optimization for the Bad Bloods launch.) CTP’s awesome and lovely designer is also helping me create a banner for Penned Con St. Louis! Two #1lineWed previews are here.

One week’s theme was sun: Both women giggled like sunshine lived inside of them.

One week’s theme was comfort: He held me to keep me warm, and I held him to comfort his tears.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

booksI began The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey. This is the sequel to The 5th Wave, and I’ve actually been wanting to read it FOREVER. (I mean, I bought the book 33 weeks ago, according to my Instagram). But I was holding off until I saw the movie of the first one. I didn’t want to confuse the two stories when I saw the film, so I’ve been patiently waiting. Now that I saw the movie, I am diving right in.

I began and finished The Siren by Kiera Cass. I am a fan of the Selection series, so I enjoyed this novel, but not as much as her other works. Still, I thought this story’s mythology about the creation of sirens and why they must sacrifice human was fascinating, and I enjoyed the interaction with the numerous sirens and the Ocean. That being said, the protagonist’s melodramatics and depression was a bit too much for me, and I ultimately thought the insta-love took away from the awesome girls. Still well worth the read though. Recommended to Cass fans, readers of mythology—mermaids, sirens, and ocean creatures/gods in general—and light romance readers. You can read my four-star review here.

I finished Splintered by A.G. Howard, and I can definitely tell you that you will LOVE this book if you’re into dark, twisted fairy tale retellings….and bad boys with fedoras. Seriously. Check it out. You can read my five-star review by clicking here. Favorite Quote: Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin.

I finished Wait Till I’m Dead by Allen Ginsberg, and I feel very fortunate to read his uncollected poetry now. Ginsberg is tragic, alluring, and maddening. I definitely recommend him to anyone interested in poetry about politics, mortality, humanity, and sex/drugs. From my favorite—Amnesiac Thirst For Fame—to one about my hometown—Entering Kansas City High, I found this now-collection refreshing yet remarkably the same in regards to brutal social and political discussions and debates. Mixed between it all is a growing narrative of Ginsberg’s failing health, and reading from the beginning to the end becomes an emotional journey through this influential poet’s life. I appreciated the notes at the end, and definitely recommended flipping back and forth between the editor’s comments and the poems. The last two poems about Carl Solomon had me in tears. Read my five-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Gin Wigmore radio really helps energize sweeping the office floor.

What I’m Watching:

would-you-survive-to-the-5th-wave-616091I saw The 5th Wave movie, mainly because I’m a HUGE fan of the novel and of Chloe Grace Moretz. I still feel very conflicted about the movie adaptation, (and that’s pretty rare for me), but I think I feel this way because they changed a lot of the centralized aspects of what made the novel great. Ex. Ben figuring out a huge chuck of the mystery rather than Ringer. That being said, I’d see it again and consider the sequel too. If you want an entertaining, light romantic story with sci-fi military subplots, watch the movie. If you want a heart-wrenching sci-fi survival story focused on family relationships with romance subplots, read the book.

I also binge-watched the anime My Little Monster. I love it. I find it both incredibly uncomfortable and awkwardly delightful, which is probably why I love it. The show manages to have some unhealthy topics without making the characters seem any less human or likable. That is a tough feat to accomplish.

436195ea68fac351fb559f27577bbfd21349099929_full

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

12647502_977794592267722_8606210293200065843_nI just can’t stop baking. I HAD to make peanut butter cookies in the middle of the night, yet I didn’t have eggs. I found an eggless peanut butter cookies recipe, and I made it, and while they were definitely delicious, eggs tends to hold cookies together, so they basically crumble apart really quickly. No worries. I ate them fast.

I made meatloaf out of venison, which was awesome. I actually enjoy venison a lot. I mean, I come from a hunter family, but this is the first year I’ve started cooking it (rather than just getting jerky or something premade), and it’s been a fun learning experience.

What I’m Wearing:

Blue and white polka dots. Why? (Wrong question.) Why not?

What I’m Wanting:

The Magic Tree House movies! I literally cannot wait.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

Everyone in the world lost their eyebrows, and somehow, this made everyone age 10x faster than they used to. One person theorized that everyone was aging, because we were all hunching over trying to find our eyebrows on the floor, and being hunched over tricked our brains into thinking we were old, so we became old. (There are so many things wrong with this dream, I can’t even begin.)

My second dream, since I’m covering two weeks, was about a girl who is visiting her sister at the hospital when a crazed patient escapes their holding block and stabs this girl with a needle. The older sister is in a panic, because it was called the Lotus Virus, and it basically kills you right away. In perfect Hollywood cheese, it starts with blood coming out of your nose and gums. Sure enough, this girl started to deteriorate, but instead of the older sister being a responsible doctor and keeping the younger one locked up, she takes her little sister home where she can die in peace…except the younger sister refuses to believe she is dying, and she escapes while her older sister is showering. She steals their mom’s car and drives to her girlfriend’s house and they speed around like a diseased Thelma and Louise duo until they crash off a cliff only to get stuck in the trees. The girlfriend dies (pretty gruesomely if I must say) but the main diseased one survives (of course), and makes her way home where her older sister is now dying from the disease too. That was it. No conclusion. Just diseases and death.

What Else Is Going On:

12640521_972740786106436_5752518972510706696_o

My family. My sister-in-law, my brother, and my dad.

It was my dad’s 60th birthday! I saw him, my brother, my sister-in-law, my uncle, and my aunt to celebrate for it, so that was pretty cool. Time really flies. In other news, I had a mouse episode at my house. At the time, I was TRYING to sleep, but I was woken up by the chaos that was my three cats. I got up to check on them, saw them all by the boots, and walked over, thinking it was a spider. A mouse landed on my foot, I screamed (naturally), and everyone scattered. Kiki caught it a couple of times and played with it, but Bogart….Oh, Bogart is evil. He caught it, put one paw on its stomach, and started slapping it’s face with his other paw. Believe it or not, this mouse totally pretended to be dead. It stuck out its tongue and everything. I even picked up Bogart to start cleaning it, but it awoke and ran away, only for Kiki to catch it again. She doesn’t kill it though, so I pick her up and chuck her out the front door, mouse and all, and she loses it mid-flight, and it darts into the bushes, to probably find another way into my house in the future. But it was pretty funny.

I also fell down the stairs this week…which wasn’t so funny. I was running down the stairs to return an email, and slipped. I could’ve thrown my laptop and caught myself, but my laptop is my life, so naturally, I sacrificed my back instead. So goes the instincts of a writer.

~SAT

12615381_10153339585432060_7462942265427582465_oTune in to ECAV Radio interview at 2:00 p.m. this Monday for my latest interview! We talked about dinosaurs, book covers, and nightmares. I even read a never-before-read poem!

On a side note, thank you for continuing to attend #AuthorinaCoffeeShop every Friday at 7 p.m. CDT on Twitter via @AuthorSAT! I really enjoy talking with you all and having fun by pointing out all the little nuances people have that can make great characters in books. I hope to see you next week!

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerTheresa RomainJan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

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Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

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Death Before Daylightbook 3:

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fbcover24

Hashtag: Diversity in SFF

8 Sep

I know. I know. Who spells out “hashtag?” Well, I did, and I have a purpose for it. On September 4, Twitter blew up with #DiversityinSFF (and, yes, that link should send you to that Twitter discussion as it continues.) While I tweeted once about it, I spent quite a lot of time reading through other readers’ and writers’ tweets. Knowing it’s an important topic to continue, I thought I’d take a shot at it, encouraging others to keep the conversation going on their own blogs and websites.

First: two articles I’ll be referencing: 

1. One of my favorite articles was by The Book Smugglers: “SFF in Conversation R.J. Anderson on Diversity in Speculative Fiction.” If you aren’t familiar with her, she wrote Ultraviolet, and her protagonist is asexual, hence the diversity in speculative fiction. The reason I enjoyed this article so much is pretty simple: I found a lot of readers and writers only talking about race (which is important, of course) but diversity includes an entire list of groups of people living within society that don’t appear in novels as much, including but not limited to gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, etc.

2. Mary Robinette Kowal has created a great survey and discussion, and you can read about it here. (I’ve taken it, and it’s very concise and short.) But I will be referencing a comment later on.

Second: Diversity is really important, so why do writers seem to turn away from it? 

I have to clarify that I don’t think people turn away from it as much as they used to, but still: there is not as much diversity as you’d think there’d be with as many writers as there is out there today. This list is simply to discuss the common reasons writers seem to avoid diversity that I could find:

1. Confusion but respect for other cultures: Some writers truly stick with “write what you know.” That being said, adding characters outside of their sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and/or religion can be overwhelming for some. Yes, you can research, but I think a lot of writers worry about the depth and honesty of that research. I think some avoid it merely on the fact that they don’t wish to misrepresent cultures they are not a part of. However, I think this barrier can easily be defeated because of the internet. There are plenty of places we can read and talk to people of other cultures to make sure we are going around stereotypes and defining a character with more honesty. (Such as R.J. Anderson wrote about Tumblr in her article.)

2. Nervous for repercussions/reactions: As Walt Fisher writes on Mary Robinette Kowal: “I have no quarrel with anyone writing, participating and expressing their viewpoint. I think it should be encouraged for all writers. That being said, I fear an overreaction.” I think this is really important, because I think this can be a huge hurtle for some writers. No matter what kind of diversity they are working with, the writer can be nervous of offending a group of people, and no one wants to offend anyone. But I think we need to remember, as writers, that we aren’t going to make everyone happy–no matter what group of diversity your character is. Some will love them, others won’t quite connect with them, and some might even hate them. You have to remind yourself to be true to your character, and, as long as you do that, the reactions won’t matter in the sense that you know you did it out of the goodness of your heart (and your characters) and not out of trying to make a certain group look bad or better.

Lastly: Something I learned about perspective from anime. 

Confession time: I love anime and manga. (I have to be in a certain kind of mood for it–like everything else–but I’m a fan.) And I came across an article that is now one of my favorites: The Society Pages: Why Do Japanese Draw Themselves as White? I really encourage everyone to read this before I discuss it, but I’ll try talking about it so you can understand it as if the link is broken and you can’t find it.

If you’ve ever come across manga (written) or anime (t.v) then you know these cartoons are filled with diversity, including sexual orientation and overall looks, but a lot of people have wondered why the Japanese draw them as Americans. “As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white.” The article continues with a vast description of why this isn’t true, allowing readers to readjust their perspective on characters.

This is what I learned from anime: Perspective of diversity matters as much as the creator adding diversity. 

Basically, it’s not entirely up to the writer; the reader has to notice the diversity for it to be present. When I talk about this, The Hunger Games comes into mind (and there’s a lot of articles about this.) For instance, many readers were surprised to find out Rue’s race, despite the descriptions in the novel. This is when it comes down to the reader. We have to stop reading as if every character is cut out of the same cloth. We have to read and accept the diversity as much as the writer who wrote it down. It takes two.

Now what do you writers and readers think? Have you written a character outside of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.? 

I have, although I can’t share all of my examples because they aren’t published yet, but I can admit that it’s easier for me to write as a male than a female (which I am planning on talking about in the future!)

Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

~SAT

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